In addition to the loss of human life and creating severe humanitarian crises, the destruction of cultural heritage has played a prominent role in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and in the recent conflict in Mali. For example, this issue recently came into the spotlight in September 2015, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor’s Office opened the first ever war crime case for destruction of cultural heritage during the 2012 military coup d’état in Mali, where rebel groups considerably damaged Timbuktu’s cultural sites and historical monuments.
In this learning session, Kristin Hausler of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) will provide an introduction to the current legal frameworks that protect cultural heritage during both international and non-international armed conflicts, and how they apply to state actors and non-state armed groups.
- Basic understanding of the concepts of cultural heritage and enhanced protection, and the consideration of deliberate cultural cleansing in armed conflicts as a war crime.
- Knowledge of the primary legal sources for the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflicts and the complementing role of international humanitarian law (IHL).
- Awareness of the implications that the qualification of a situation as either an international or non-international armed conflict has on the protection of cultural heritage.
- Understanding of states’ obligations to protect and enforce protection of cultural heritage during armed conflicts and the individual criminal responsibility of non-state armed groups to respect cultural heritage under IHL, international criminal law, and customary law.
- Familiarity with the application of existing legal frameworks through international criminal mechanisms to prosecute attacks against cultural heritage and the legal gaps encountered when damage has been perpetrated by non-state armed groups or by states that are not parties to the 1954 Hague Convention or the Rome Statute.